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Sam Baker to play concert at Bicknell Center

On Nov. 12 at 7:00 p.m, folk musician Sam Baker will be performing at the Bicknell Family Center for the arts in the Dotty and Bill Miller Theatre.

Sam Baker is a folk musician based in Austin, Texas. He is known for his sparsely poetic lyrics, and his music could be compared to that of the famous singer John Prine, who sang such hit songs as “Day is Done” and “Hello in There”. Baker got his start in music after high school in 1986 after traveling by train to Machu Picchu in Peru. In a terrible tragedy, a bomb placed in the overhead rack just above his head exploded, killing seven other passengers in its destruction. Baker was left with severe injuries including brain damage. He suffers from a constant case of tinnitus, leaving all the fingers in his left-hand gnarled. Over time, he retained enough dexterity to be able to grasp a guitar pick, and he slowly retaught himself to replay his guitar using his left hand. His brain damage has also affected his use of language as he struggled to remember nouns, but writing helped him to relearn. Over time, his writing soon became songwriting as he discovered melodies. 

Sam Baker has performed here in Pittsburg once before. The event will feature Baker’s full band, which Poole noted was exciting because the Covid-19 pandemic had separated Baker and his Band for 18 months. The concert will run for roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

“My personal experience with him is that he is someone who just radiates joy,” said Rob Poole, co-founder of non-profit Olive Street Presents. “Through his personal experiences he just appreciates life on a very deep level. He has taken his experiences and just demonstrated a level of on-stage appreciation for life and the good things that we should pursue. He is very eloquent.”

Olive Street Presents is a non-profit organization hosting the event. Rob Poole and his wife Carol Puckett founded Olive Street Presents during the Covid-19 Pandemic. “Our journey started because we were travelling a lot. Gasoline was inexpensive, and we could go to distant places to listen to music. So, we thought, ‘What if we could bring some of what we love to Pittsburg?’ And we just tried to create a culture and a tribe of folks who love music. Most people enjoy live music no matter the genre, it’s something that since the beginning of time we have gathered in caves and front porches and played and listened to music. It really is good for your sense of community.” Following the formation of this brand-new non-profit, the pair wrote a successful grant with the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas, who will also be supporting the show.

Poole also described folk music for someone who may not know the definition behind it. 

“Folk music is this great, big, huge umbrella,” Poole said. “It can be a little bit country, a little bit Americana, or it could be blues. And I don’t know that anyone has that definition nailed down precisely, but the umbrella is very broad, and it encompasses a whole lot of different styles.”

Rob encouraged any member of the community to attend based on Baker’s personal experience. 

“It’s the experience, there is a magic and an energy to live music and the personal connections that you make with him and his stories, and parallels in your own life,” Poole said. “I think almost everybody who goes to a Sam Baker show comes out with a sense of wonder, and joy.”

For anyone who is interested in attending, more information and ticket reservations can be found at the Olive Street website (olivestreetpresents.org).

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